Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Trelese/Namelessnumberheadman Split 7" Rumblefish/Urinine/Pabst Brewing Co. 2003

The Trelese/Namelessnumberheadman Split 7" Rumblefish/Urinine/Pabst Brewing Co. 2003 NO CAT#

So, this is a really amazing piece of KC indie rock history that was created a few years after I parted ways with a very active local music scene to focus on the very indie-rock college music scene. But, before I go into what this is, I'd like to discuss how I came upon it as it explains part of the sickness I have for records.

I was visiting my brand new niece a few days after she was born at my sister's house. Babies are great, but my sister and bother-in-law have records (the coolest of which I gave them). After the whole, "Did you see the baby?" bit, I gravitated towards the records and was quickly told many of them weren't really theirs. A friend, who apparently moved, was storing them at my sister's house and they weren't really sure if he was ever coming back for them.

Now, I'm not the kind of jerk who was just going to start looking through some other dude's records thinking I can take them. But, I was going to look at them, very closely and intently, with a purpose of picking out what my sister needed to play/keep for herself. I started sorting through the records with laser focus, the kind not even a newborn could distract. On top of a small pile of 7"s, I saw this PBR cover. Looking closer, it's a hand-made outer-sleeve from a 12 pack. I've never seen it before let alone in my sister's small 7" collection (most of which, I gave her) what the hell was this? I flip to the back and see in large font, 'Pabst Blue Ribbon Kansas City.' Whoa. Look further and see the band Trelese and that the songs are written by no other than my old pal Jared Scholz of Reflector. The other band, Namelessnumberheadman is a KC transplant from Oklahoma. Finally, I see that Sid of Too Much Rock was a part of the release under his past label, Urinine Records. I'm literally starting to sweat, what the hell is this and why is it here?

My new niece, because baby's are way cuter than records
Seeing all this, I pulled out all stops, I was taking this record home. First, in my mind I started justifying it. My sister and brother-in-law don't even know what or who this is, they don't need it. And the dude who dropped his records off, he isn't coming back, right? He won't even notice this is gone if he does. Then I started vocalizing things to my brother-in-law, explaining that I needed the record because I used to know Jared Scholz and things like this are important to me. I wouldn't ask to take to it home if it wasn't. Eventually, they just said, "Yeah, whatever, take it, we know where it is."

So, I kind of feel good at that point. The record will be safe with me, where it belongs. I'll document it, I'll cherish it, and I'll archive it. I'm the right person for this record. Then when leaving with my wife, things went South... She's was all, "What is wrong with you?!" "Why did you take that record?!" "It isn't yours?!" Of course, my wife doesn't realize that if I didn't take this home, I may never see another copy. And, every single time I visted my sister in the future, seeing this record would slowly kill me. It would progressively get worse and worse every time I had to look at it until one day I just stole it. Running to my car with a 7" record shoved down my pants feeling guilty and setting a buffer in which I'd visit my sister again. My wife doesn't get that part, but, she was probably right. Total dickmove on my part. And no matter how cool this record is, it's not as cool and great as my new niece.

As for the actual record, I'm mad at my myself for being so unaware in 2003. To justify my theft of the record to my brother-in-law I actually said I wasn't cool in 2003 as if saying so would make him realize that if I was cool in 2003, I'd own this, so somehow, by that logic, he shouldn't feel bad about letting me have it. However, I was actually 'too cool' in 2003 for records like this. At that time I was busy being a mover and shaker at KJHK, probably deeply into ambient Eno music or minimalist 80's synth, not local KC obscurities.

I never was around the scene in 2003 to know Jared tried something new after Reflector broke up. Per the 7", there was a planned full length entitled "Working Toward 2203," which reviewing the interwebs, apparently never saw an actual release. The Trelese, at least based on these two songs, were a toned down Reflector. Less start-stop dynamics and angular paths and more melody in it's place. It's promising and makes me want to go seek out Jared at the Church he preaches at to ask if the rest of the album exists.

Namelessnumberheadman was active up until 2011, maybe they still are, but not to the same extent. The members were native Okie's who moved to KC. They took keyboards and other bits of electronica and combined them with acoustic guitars to generate a significant buzz during their existence. The songs are representative of the band, albeit a very early version. They became well reviewed by Pitchfork and were featured on NPR Music. It sounds very Death Cab for Cutie-esque, but the band was smarter than that, very intelligent with unexpected electronic sounds and acoustic guitars.

Namelessnumberheadman on NPR

Various Artists Eccentric Soul: Smart's Palace Numero Group 2009

Various Artists Eccentric Soul: Smart's Palace Numero Group 2009 CAT# 27

This is a Numero compilation highlighting Wichita Kansas' Smart Brothers along with the artists that played with them at their Wichita, KS club.

The story is pretty surprising and not very well known. Wichita, Kansas soul scene is so obscure the 7"s that are connected to Smart's Palace aren't out of reach for collectors. If found, they bring in around $20, with maybe a few of the dance floor burners edging the $50 range.

The music here is raw. This isn't uptown soul, this isn't even roots driven Southern soul, soul sides. It's working class with tracks that range from the 60's into the 70's. The music changes with the decade and time they were recorded in, however, even the obvious 70s track never get smooth, the music stays raw. Each decade is well worth time on the comp, but if there is a winner, the basement sounds of the 60's sides are impossible to ignore.

As usual, the Numero Group compilation is complete with amazing liner notes telling the story and fantastic packaging. Highly recommended.

Smart's Palace

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Various Artists The Best of Twin Lakes '72 Vermillion Enterprises 1972

Various Artists The Best of Twin Lakes '72 Vermillion Enterprises 1972 CAT #VES-4004A

There's an intro to this record, a female voice over that advises how cool the Twin Lakes Night Club as it features artists such as Anybody's Guess, Sidra and the Performers, the Chadons, and the Music Tree, it leads you to believe that the Twin Lakes Night Club in Wichita, Kansas had more to offer, but, judging by this album, that was it. Those are the only four performers on the compilation.

Lounge records from the 70's can be pretty entertaining, but this ins't offering anything that really jumps out. Occasionally the lounge bands cover a psych track that goes crazy or is just amazing in it's amateurishness. Or, you get a huge drum break that kids like to sample. This LP doesn't have either of those things.

It's still "groovy" to hit on the feel of 1972, like swinging bachelor type stuff. A vibe probably better suited for 1969, but things take a while to get to Wichita, KS. Sidra and the Performers are mildly psychedelic. The band Anybody's Guess does things rather lo-fi and is fairly groovy on their tracks, putting their version of Mel Tillis' "Ruby" on a mixtape or CD wouldn't be out of the question. The rest is mostly miss, nothing unbearable mind you, but no real standouts...The Chadons actually border on awful.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wichita Lineman Live From the Cowboy Lineman Records Unknown Year

Wichita Lineman Live From the Cowboy Lineman Records Unknown Year CAT# NR12516

This band's records are all over and typically, I walk right past. Always curious, but more of a, "I wonder how bad that is?" The group was obviously local to Wichita and based on this LP, did their two-stepping at a bar in Wichita called the The Cowboy, which may or may not still exist in some form or not.

The band just reeks of some sort of tourist trap. Like the Flying W Ranch Cowboy records from Colorado Springs, CO. I figured the way people ended up with one of these LPs is if you were stuck in Wichita, KS on business or inter-state tourism and go to some hokey cowboy place (because, it's the "wild west") and the Wichita Lineman would play you sappy country ballads and Countrypolitan hits of the day in matching suits with rhinestones. You'd be impressed, because you're the type that doesn't like good music or get out much and you'd feel the purchase of a Wichita Lineman LP was a sound investment only to let it sit on the shelf and never be touched again

Listening to the album, there's some of all of that to be found. However, it's a bit more rowdy than what I thought it'd be. The first track, a cover of "Cotton Eyed Joe", chants the word "Bullshit!" over and over. So, maybe The Cowboy was pretty rough. The Lineman don't write their own tracks, at least on this LP, but while all covers, they're not half bad. Even "Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" is pretty tasteful. They also cover, "Don't it Make Ya Wanna Dance," which was made famous by Bonnie Raitt and "Louisiana Man", by Doug Kershaw, two popular country artists, but not the typical cover fodder found on a private press country LPs.

All in all, the Lineman are more honky-tonk than they are Nashville Country. They do get corny, they do wear matching suits, but they swear and don't take their tracks lightly. It's more Western than the Country Southern I expected.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Gaslite Gang Paul Gray's Jazz Place Presents Audio House Unknown Year

The Gaslite Gang Paul Gray's Jazz Place Presents Audio House Unknown Year CAT #AHS177F75

This isn't much different than the 1980 release by the same group, in fact the titles are virtually the same, except they spell Gaslite Gang consistently on this LP (additional release). One difference is that Paul Gray opted to release under the Audio House label rather than his own private imprint. By that, its assumed this predates the 1980 release, but it's hard to know for sure as this release isn't dated.

The Gaslite Gang adhere to New Orleans/ragtime styles here, with the exceptions of  a few ballads. The vocal numbers are fun and give you the sense these were just young, fresh out of college guys being hipsters.

It's fairly enjoyable in that it's fun. It won't hurt you to play it a few times. The cover, albeit just an advertisement for Paul Gray's Jazz Place is great in it's simplicity and style. Later, the Jazz Place would be renamed the Jazzhaus and was (last I knew) still situated upstairs in an old downtown building.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Mark Meckel Volga German Pageant & Volga German Music M.D.M Productions 1976

Mark Meckel Volga German Pageant Exodus to Freedom 1763-1976 M.D.M Productions 1976 CAT #USR9624

Mark Meckel Volga German Music M.D.M. Productions 1976 CAT #USR 9150

It's taken me probably 3 months to sit through both of these albums...the first one I put on, Volga German Pageant Exodus to Freedom 1763-1976 is pretty boring, at least it seems that way. It's church music. And German. From Hays, KS. But, giving it a little more time, it is a pageant, meant to give an outline of Volga-German music, it's primarly choral, but outside of religious music, does have passed down folk music.

The other LP, Volga German Music is less boring, traditional German music with some gypsy aspects thrown in. It features a violin, organ, accordion and guitar. Not sure those were the instruments of choice back in the old Country, but you know, it works. The waltzes are nice enough.

I picked it up hoping there might be a connection to someone from the band, the Blue Things, seeing how they were also from Hays, KS. I figured I'd connect the dots with a band member, maybe even Val Stoecklien. If there is a connection to be found, I'm not enough of a sleuth to piece it together, another reason I sat on these forever.

What is most interesting about the albums is the apparent rich Volga-German history that can be found in Hays, KS. The records are even copyrighted to the Volga German Centennial Association, so must have been legit. A Volga-German heritage came from Catherine the Great encouraging German immigration into Russia in 1763. The Germans moved, cultivated the land and history says kept their German identity while in Russia. In fact, they were allowed by Russia up into even the Communist era to keep their religions, language and identity. However, once Germany attacked Russia in World War II, the bargain was off. As cultural Germans, they were persecuted as an enemy.

However, that isn't how Volga-Germans ended up in parts of Kansas. Russian Czar, Alexander the II revoked the military exemption from the community in 1871. Groups left to America and arrived in Topeka, KS as early as 1875, primarily to help build railroads. Later, as farmers, they helped develop Kansas as the breadbasket introducing farming techniques used in Russia to yield high amounts of wheat and introduced a seed that could withstand the harsher climates. More amazing is that the community in Hays, KS, as late as 1976, still identified themselves as Volga-German.

***Also of note, Mark Meckel is not the musician in charge here, he appears to be more of the curator of the albums and as such is credited for the title.

Germans from Russia in Kansas

Merritt Owens Advertising Agency "Whistle and Boom" Sound Effect Damon Unknown Year

Merritt Owens Advertising Agency "Whistle and Boom" Sound Effect Damon Acetate Unknown Year No CAT #

This is odd. It's literally just a sound effect. Sounds like the whistle and boom of a firework going off and it repeats 3 times on one side of the record while the other side is blank.

Typically, if you find Damon records, they are custom press gospel records. Some of which are one-of-kind acetates, others that the label provided multiple copies for whoever took advantage of the companies service. This is just an acetate disc of a single sound, obviously used for the advertising firm that purchased it, but the strange thing is why did they need a record of it?

To get the sound to record, it had to be taped, right? So why wasn't the Merritt Owens Advertising Agency just able to use the tape? Odd. Either way, it does appear the Merritt Owens Agency was based in K.C. The Damon label most certainly was.